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Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse

By teaching child personal safety, you can protect your child

Children in preschool to age eight benefit greatly from a child personal-safety training program sponsored by the Children's Trust. This training is presented in the same way we teach our children to cross the street safely and react appropriately in a fire drill. We instruct, we review, we practice, and we talk about it in school and at home. Talking About Touching is a successful, research-based, age-appropriate program. It teaches children basic skills to help keep them safe from dangerous or abusive situations. Children learn in a comfortable context what is appropriate and inappropriate touching by others; how to recognize, resist and report inappropriate touching; and how to talk to you about incidents. Through this training, when we are not with our children, they still have the knowledge and state of mind to do the right thing in the worst possible situation. For more information about the curriculum, visit www.childrenstrustma.org.

Child Personal Safety Training

  • To protect your child from abduction, teach your child the “always-ask-first rule.” This rule states clearly that your child cannot go anywhere with anyone without asking you or another supervising adult if it is ok to do so.
  • Repeat this rule with your child, particularly six, seven and eight year olds. Ask, “What's the always-ask-first-rule?” Your child's response should be, “Ask you or my teacher if I can go somewhere with another adult. Don't just go.” Praise your child for getting it right. Coach your child if he or she does not remember and then keep practicing.
  • Tell your child that if someone is touching him or her and your child wants that person to stop, go right ahead and say “No” or “Stop that!”
  • Teach your child that an adult should never touch private body parts, except to keep your child clean and healthy. If someone does touch your child's private body parts, he or she should say, “No,” and get away to tell an adult.
  • Teach your child the difference between a safe touch and an unsafe touch.
  • Tell your child never to keep secrets about touching. Say, “In this house, we keep no secrets.”
  • Should your child report to you that someone touched him or her inappropriately, act on your child's behalf. Taking action on your child's behalf will show your child that you will believe him or her.

Between the ages of 6 and 8, children should practice these safety skills to help them keep safe from dangerous or abusive situations.

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